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Maori Karmael Holmes

Chief Executive & Artistic Officer

Maori is a filmmaker, writer, and curator. She founded BlackStar Film Festival in 2012 and serves as Chief Executive & Artistic Officer of BlackStar Projects. She has organized film programs at Anthology Film Archives, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, Penn Live Arts at Annenberg Center, The Underground Museum, and Whitney Museum of American Art. She has organized the exhibitions Terence Nance: Swarm (2023, ICA Philadelphia), Assemblage (2019, Pearlstein Gallery), and Lossless (2017, Pearlstein Gallery). As a director, her works have screened internationally including her feature documentary Scene Not Heard: Women in Philadelphia Hip-Hop. She has directed and produces works for, Visit Philadelphia, as well as the musicians India.Arie, Mike Africa, Jr., and Wayna. She has produced several films including Iyabo Kwayana’s By Water (2023). Her writing has most recently appeared in Seen, Documentary Magazine, The Believer, Film QuarterlyPleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, How We Fight White Supremacy: A Field Guide to Black Resistance, and Collective Wisdom: Co-Creating Media Within Communities Across Disciplines and Algorithms. Maori received her MFA in Film & Media Arts from Temple University and her BA in History from American University. She also received formative training at Howard University and California Institute of the Arts. She is a founding member of Lalibela Baltimore. Maori was Mediamaker-in-Residence at the Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania from 2020-2023, a 2019-2020 Soros Equality Fellow, a 2021 DOC NYC New Leader, a 2016 Just Films/Rockwood Fellow, and a 2014 Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow. In 2023, Maori was announced as recipient of the United States Artists Berresford Prize and as an inaugural Philadelphia’s Cultural Treasures Fellow. In 2019, she was included in Essence Magazine’s Woke 100 List and in 2022, she was included among Philadelphia Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Philadelphia as well as designated “Best Film Ambassador,” and named one of the Kennedy Center’s #Next50